Star Wars franchise producer and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and her cohorts have settled the debate over whether the character will be prolonged beyond this year’s December release of Episode VIII.

The move came on Friday following days of speculation in the wake of the unexpected death of Carrie Fisher last month.

Fisher returned as Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in late 2015 and it is understood she had completed her scenes for Episode VIII before her untimely demise.

“We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumour circulating that we would like to address,” read a Lucasfilm statement on the official Star Wars website.

“We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.

“Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honour everything she gave to Star Wars.”

By coincidence filmmakers on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story used digital technology to feature the late Peter Cushing’s character, Grand Moff Tarkin.

Colin Trevorrow is expected to begin production on Episode IX in early 2018 ahead of the May 2019 release.